Shoulder Specialist

Do you have catching, grinding or shoulder stiffness?  Do you participate in throwing sports or activities with repetitive overhead motions?  If so, you may have loose bodies in your shoulder joint. Loose bodies are caused by degrading cartilaginous tissue that lines the end of the bones and breaks off into the shoulder. Loose bodies can be removed arthroscopically. Arthroscopic shoulder specialist, Doctor Riley J. Williams provides diagnosis as well surgical and non-surgical options for patients in Manhattan and New York City, NY who are experiencing symptoms of loose bodies in their shoulder. Contact Dr. Williams’ team today!

212-606-1855
Request an Appointment

What are loose bodies in the shoulder?

The glenohumeral joint, one of the three main shoulder joints, is the articulation between the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the glenoid socket of the scapula (shoulder blade). Repetitive use of this shoulder (throwing, pitching, serving) or shoulder trauma (dislocations, falls) can cause the cartilaginous tissue that lines the end of these bone to deteriorate. This deterioration can generate small free pieces of cartilage or bone that “float” in the intra-articular (joint) space. These fragments can become lodged within the joint space and can cause mechanical symptoms in the shoulder (locking, catching). Some individuals may experience a sharp and sudden pain in the shoulder that can make joint movement difficult. Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic shoulder specialist serving patients in Manhattan, New York City, and the surrounding New York boroughs, has the knowledge and understanding, as well as substantial experience, in treating patients who have experienced loose bodies in the shoulder.

What are the symptoms of loose bodies in the shoulder?

The most common complaint of loose bodies in the shoulder is moderate to severe shoulder pain, however many individuals do not report any symptoms at all. Other symptoms of loose bodies in the shoulder include:

  • A “catching” or “locking” sensation with joint movement
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion of the affected shoulder
  • Shoulder instability
  • Pain

How are loose bodies in the shoulder diagnosed?

A comprehensive medical history will be obtained by Dr. Williams and includes an assessment of shoulder injuries or a history of shoulder conditions. Dr. Williams performs a thorough physical examination involving specific shoulder movements and tests. Diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can confirm the diagnosis of loose bodies and identify damage to the other structures of the shoulder joint.

What is the treatment for loose bodies in the shoulder?

Non-surgical treatment:

Upon confirmation of the presence of loose bodies in the shoulder conservative therapeutic measures are implemented. Immobilization of the shoulder with a sling or other device is encouraged to limit joint movement may be recommended for a brief period. Pain and inflammation can be managed with a combination of rest, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). If oral medications fail to alleviate the pain or inflammation, corticosteroid injections may be administered. When appropriate, a physical rehabilitation program can restore shoulder mobility and range of motion.

Surgical treatment:

If conservative therapies fail to alleviate the symptoms, surgical intervention may be necessary. The loose bodies are removed during shoulder arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgical procedure using an arthroscope and specialized surgical instruments). This simple surgical technique is performed using sedation and regional anesthesia. This arthroscopic approach reduces the risks of infection and blood loss while also shortening the recovery period. Minimal sling use is needed, and patient usually recovery with 6 weeks following the procedure.

For more information on loose bodies in the shoulder, or the excellent treatment options available, please contact the office of Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic shoulder specialist serving Manhattan, New York City, and the surrounding New York boroughs, NY.